23 Jan 2011

Harawira says some Ratana members support his stand

5:03 pm on 23 January 2011

Maori MP Hone Harawira says he has been told by some Ratana Church members to continue being outspoken.

Celebrations marking the birth of the church's founder, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, started on Saturday at Ratana Pa south of Whanganui.

Hone Harawira walked on to Ratana marae on Sunday, along with his people from Te Tai Tokerau.

He says he has been told by some Ratana morehu (members) to be strong despite a meeting being held next week to discuss a complaint about him.

The complaint was laid by his Maori Party colleague, Te Ururoa Flavell, over a newspaper article in which Mr Harawira criticised his caucus for bowing down to the National Party.

Mr Harawira says some at the Ratana festivities have told him to carry on speaking out on behalf of his people in Te Tai Tokerau.

One Ratana follower, Suzanne Pene, says Mr Harawira is only trying to do what is best for his people.

Mr Harawira says he will join his party if it decides to take part in the celebrations.

An organiser for the Ratana celebrations, William Meremere, says the Maori Party has not yet confirmed its attendance though it is likely that party representatives will arrive on Monday, alongside other Government members.

Meanwhile, Ratana apostle Kimiora Pene says he thinks political parties will be eager to campaign at the event given it is election year.

The Ratana celebrations continue until Tuesday, and thousands of people are expected to attend, including the leaders of the National and Labour parties.